Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas is a Season for Crafting and Cooking

I apologize for being an absentee for the last month or so. But I still want to share our holiday season with you and tell you all about the wonderful smells, sights, and joys we experienced here in Bag End. Again I have to apologize - being so caught up in the hustle and bustle I forgot to take many pictures so all I can do is share the recipes or the results.
I'm sure you've all heard the saying 'just like mom used to make' well we had Christmas just like Great-Grandma used to make. From the homemade popcorn garland and gingerbread cookies to one of my favorite Christmas traditions from growing up; my Great-Grandma Nellie's Poorman Cake. At my house we knew what Santa really wanted. After all the cookies he needed something different so he got a couple slices of poorman with butter and eggnog. As a result I'm certain that he liked our house the best because poorman cake is excellent. Within about 2 or 3 hours of making ours I had eaten 3/4 of a loaf myself.

Boil 2 1/2 Cups Raisins and 3 Cups Water together until they have plumped and there is only about 1/3 of the water left (there was about an inch of water left in my little pot or about 3/4 of a cup liquid)

Meanwhile, cream together 1 Cup Shortening, 1 1/2 Cups Sugar, and 3 Eggs.
Add dry ingredients (mix together in another bowl prior so you just have to dump them all in)
3 Cups flour, 2 tsp Baking Soda, 1 tsp Cinnamon, 1/4 tsp Salt, 1/4 tsp All Spice

Mix in Raisins, 1/2 Cup finely chopped apple, and 1 Cup nuts (optional)

Line greased loaf tins (2 large/normal) with waxed or parchment paper and pour in. Bake @375 for 45 minutes. Cool and Enjoy :)

Despite my firm belief that all Santa wants is Poorman Cake; Mr. Sam disagrees and insisted that Santa eats cookies so I'm sharing with you my mom's sugar cookie recipe that stays soft and a sweet buttercream frosting to knock your socks off.

2/3 C. Shortening
3/4 C Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 Egg
4 tsp Milk
2 C. Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt

Cream shortening, sugar, and vanilla. Beat Egg in and stir in Milk. MIx flour, baking powder, and salt; dump in. Refridgerate overnight. Roll out on powdered sugar; keep it relatively think - about 1/4" and cut out cookies with powdered cookie cutters. Bake on greased pan for 6-8 minutes @ 375. Made about 2 dozen medium cookies.

Betterhomes' Buttercream

1 stick softened butter
3-4 Cups Powdered Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla
1 tsp. Almond Extract

Cream the butter and a cup of sugar together. Add the vanilla and extract. Gradually add more sugar until it makes and keeps stiff ridges. If you accidently make it thicker than you'd like add a few Tbs of Milk and add sugar until it is as you like. It will take about a pound of sugar to a stick of butter. Add color as you like with the extracts.
This isn't an exact science it is the way you like it. If you like it more creamy than sweet than it'll make less (because you'll do less sugar). But I make it like above.

Here are some links to other recipes we made during our traditional 'Great-Grandma' Christmas.

Gingerbread cookies

There are dozens of recipes, variations, and tutorials; I couldn't find one quite like ours but they are all basically the same. I recommend a basic divinity with vanilla, karo syrup, sugar, water, and egg whites. That's all you need. Good luck, it's messy but so worth it.
http://www.sweetandsavorybyshinee.com/2013/12/18/divinity/ is a pretty good one.

If it seems like we cooked a lot during our Christmas break, then you're in for a shock to see the crafts we did.
Being strapped for cash and the fact that you have to be a millionaire to ship anything these days, we took a homemade approach to our Christmas gifts this year. We made 1 oven mitt, 3 skirts, 2 headbands, 1 dress, 3 snowmen, 5 lotion bars, a dozen chapstick, 4 pillowcases, 7 fish, 1 fishing pole, 2 soup mixes, 2 pajama pants, and I'm sure I've missed things along the way. I'll share some instructions for my favorites and some links to others in my next post.